Let’s stipulate at the outset here that almost all politicians play fast and loose with the truth on some occasions. By omission or commission, they sometimes willfully mislead with their public pronouncements.
Even Honest Abe Lincoln probably stretched the truth at one time or another in the interest of trying to save the Union. And even certain modern-day politicians whom I admire are not above deliberately misstating the facts to suit their purposes. President Obama did just that when he argued the other day that the Affordable Care Act was approved by “a wide majority” in Congress.
But Mitt Romney’s penchant for dishonesty far exceeds the political norm. He’s in a class by himself. He lies not only about his rivals (see HERE, for example), but also about his own record (see HERE). He also denies having said the things he said (see HERE), as if videotape can’t disprove his false claims in that regard.
The big problem for Romney in all of this is that he risks being tarred with the liar label just as the general-election campaign begins. It threatens to define him. The mainstream media at long last are beginning to pay more attention to the Mittster’s penchant for prevarication, and an unflattering narrative is developing, a theme that fits with the Etch-A-Sketch and flip-flopper images.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post summarizes the situation HERE:
Romney’s fast-and-loose routine with the facts — deployed equally against his Republican rivals and Obama — is particularly disappointing because it is unnecessary. He has a powerful case to make against Obama without the embellishment: The economic recovery is maddeningly slow without his claiming that it’s the weakest since the Great Depression (the 1980 and 2001 recoveries were slower) or alleging that “an article in the Wall Street Journal” reported that “this has been the slowest economic recovery including that of the Great Depression” (the article, an op-ed, said the recovery is slower than “most”).
PolitiFact has awarded Romney its “Pants on Fire” or “False” ratings for 32 claims. Among them are these: that Obama “didn’t even mention the deficit or debt” in his State of the Union address, that “our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917,” that Obama “never worked in the private sector,” that Obama “gave” the automakers “to the UAW,” and that “we’re only inches away from no longer being a free economy.”
Wednesday’s speech alone had more than a dozen distortions, including allegations that: Obama “has failed to even pass a budget” (Congress passes budget resolutions, which the president doesn’t sign); Obama created a panel empowered to deny treatments under Medicare (the board can only make recommendations, and only if Congress fails to find Medicare cuts), Obama “has added regulations at a staggering rate” (the Business Roundtable just said it “lauded” the administration’s attempt at regulatory reform).
No fewer than three Romney claims in that one speech merited PolitiFact’s “Pants on Fire” rating: that Obama led “a government takeover of health care,” has been “apologizing for America abroad” and is ending “Medicare as we know it.” Romney’s assertions that Obama “is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare” and that eliminating Obamacare saves “about $100 billion” were rated false.
That Romney resorts to such gratuitous falsehoods discredits his leadership more than his opponent’s.